Thursday, September 3, 2015

Of frostbites and fantasies

It’s a rather rhetorical and in all likelihood a completely futile question but one I will ask anyway. When will Bollywood quit misleading Indians (and whichever other languages our movies get dubbed in) into believing iconic romance only unfolds in impossible-to-reach, navigate and survive, ultra-exotic locales?

     Twice this week I’ve stumbled upon pictures of SRK and Kajol in some remote, godforsaken place called Iceland. It evokes a painful memory that seems to have lingered on subconsciously. Many years ago (when I was a tad more spontaneous and intrepid) I was obsessed with watching the northern lights in Alaska while traveling across it.  You know the enthralling, dramatic, magical display of lights that fascinate every bit? It also goes by Aurora Borealis. They call it the most spectacular light show on earth, and for good reason. A bit of research quickly threw me in direct confrontation with the harsh reality; it would require driving 2 hours north of the farthest human establishment in Alaska closer to the north pole, camping out in minus 30 and 40-degree Fahrenheit temperatures for nights in a row and relying entirely on my luck for my chance of a lifetime to witness those auroras splashed across the sky and make me believe in miracles again. Winter months are best as December and January have the darkest nights, I was told. It would also require a truckload of snow gear from massive jackets to balaclavas (monkey caps, if you insist) and I’d still have to risk frostbites, jumbled speech and blue skin if not frozen arteries. I was also warned it could lead to hypothermia and in rare cases closing this earthly scene but let’s not make it all too grim. Needless to say, chickening out was the wise thing to do.

     I couldn’t kill the curiosity within so I looked up blogs of photographers who’d braved it all to watch and capture those magnificent lights on film. Their facial skin, or what was visible from the balaclavas, was a sorry blend of sunburn, frostbites and numerous wrinkles from the severe climate. They still seemed ecstatic, posing proudly with their cameras or calendars they’d made out of those photographs. One chap in particular seemed to have a bad case of cold and the dripping mucus from his nose had turned into an ice blade. Really sexy stuff. And that’s exactly how I pictured myself as well under the circumstance, sadly enough. If I somehow lived to tell it all, the top two items on my wish list would be a bathroom (equipped with hot water and a shower head) and several fortifying cups of tea made with fresh ginger and real milk, not some powdery version stocked away in a factory for months. It’s hard to tell sitting on a couch at home but I am almost certain romance would not have made it to the list if I were writing it from that ice-covered tent.

     Cut to the behind-the-scenes viral shots of Dilwale, the newest SRK-Kajol flick for those of you who live under a banyan tree, replete with northern lights spattered in the backdrop and one can imagine why it may have left me crestfallen and defeated. Time only claims to heal until you look the ghosts of your past in the eye once again. Then all bets are off. If anything gives me solace it is that SRK seemed to be in pretty much the same situation I had decided to run away from; thick jackets, ski masks, a trembling jaw (okay I may be imagining a few things) and his million-dollar face resembling a sun-dried plum. Utterly tragic! But let me get real. There’s a reason why behind-the-scenes is called that.

     Bollywood and snow romance is a formula as old as the hills. From Madhuri in Pukar to Alia in SOTY, each time I watch a number unfold on screen, my heart goes out to the poor ladies. I start out being compassionate but by the end of the track I’m left completely sold on that spellbinding romance.

     Our movies and the audiences have evolved enough to allow the luxury of layering occasionally to an actress. But it’s a rare sight, just like those northern lights. And so they emote, sing, dance, and radiate love in itsy bitsy pieces of clothing like they’re in sunflower fields under the Tuscan sun, not with feet piercing the porous snow sending shivers up their spine.

     As for SRK and Kajol, I know what will transpire on screen will be breathtaking and iconic. The lead pair will seem unfazed by extreme weather conditions, like those yogis who roam around shirtless in the Himalayas. And we all (or at least those susceptible ones among us) will be reduced to falling for the deception fantasy yet another time. 

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